March 22, 2005
From The Mailbag
Crooked Numbers, LABR, JAWS, and Top Prospect Rankings
Nice article on batting order. It seems to me that when we think of 'ideal' batting orders, we are thinking of the best way to order offensive parts When The Parts Are Working. When we run a simulated season, it is typically done Strat-o-matic style, as you did it. IIRC, the other studies I have seen operated similarly. So, two questions:
1) Is it true that in reality, offenses bunch up their successes more often than randomly - less successful than the norm when Randy Johnson pitches, better than normal when a Yankee middle reliever is on the mound, and if so, wouldn't we expect to see a larger effect if we ran simulations that way?
2) Is the data on success-bunching available to do so?
Interesting idea. I could see adding a "pitcher difficulty" factor -- perhaps harder in innings 1-5, easier in 6-8, and harder in the ninth, but I'd like to back that up against real data first. For that, let's go to the videotape. Here's how batters did by inning in 2004, broken down by league:
YEAR LG INNING AVG OBP SLG 2004 AL 1 .270 .340 .433 2004 AL 2 .263 .327 .407 2004 AL 3 .278 .341 .446 2004 AL 4 .284 .344 .471 2004 AL 5 .279 .343 .451 2004 AL 6 .280 .347 .463 2004 AL 7 .267 .339 .424 2004 AL 8 .254 .328 .388 2004 AL 9 .249 .323 .401 YEAR LG INNING AVG OBP SLG 2004 NL 1 .272 .344 .441 2004 NL 2 .256 .320 .416 2004 NL 3 .261 .329 .425 2004 NL 4 .271 .339 .436 2004 NL 5 .264 .332 .429 2004 NL 6 .271 .340 .448 2004 NL 7 .260 .333 .421 2004 NL 8 .259 .333 .403 2004 NL 9 .250 .316 .400
Interestingly, both leagues see marked declines in the last three innings (as well as the second inning), so there may be something to this. But I wonder how much of that is just the cyclical nature of the lineup. I would attribute the dip in the second inning to the likelihood that the bottom of the order is up in that inning more often than not. But the last three innings I can't really explain other than to wonder about defensive replacements, pinch hitters, and relief specialists.
I'm not sure this answers your question about bunching success against particular pitchers, but it does raise some interesting questions about teams batting better earlier in the game and thus "bunching" their success in those innings.
Running Barry through the lineup of eight average players yields the following results:
Pos Min Mean Max 1 805 930 1106 2 797 925 1092 3 774 920 1076 4 784 925 1073 5 786 917 1076 6 780 910 1094 7 769 906 1050 8 765 901 1045 9 772 900 1070
Keep in mind, though, that this doesn't take into account the fact that he would more frequently be batting with no one on base if he was leading off. If instead Mike Matheny and Jason Schmidt are substituted in the last two spots in the lineup, things look more like this:
Pos Min Mean Max 1 637 796 924 2 677 795 923 3 664 796 948 4 672 798 954 5 662 792 925 6 645 780 913 7 653 771 889 8 641 761 885 9 653 764 886
In this case, he peaks in the fourth spot, but the difference between there and the first three is small enough that it cannot be stated with much confidence that that's the "best" spot for him to bat. The extra PAs by Bonds by batting him higher are muted by the decreased batters on base in front of him.
You seem to have run a pretty smart draft. I get that pitchers are more of a gamble than hitters, but you can't tank those categories. In a way I think that means one should go even more pitcher heavy to protect you from injuries. That said, you did get some nice value picks. I like Capuano in particular and you can't complain about the prices on Willis and Rusch.
Very interesting system. I like the concept of "Roto VORP." I agree with you 100% that rostering a Matheny for the whole year can really hurt your squad, in that you're dragging your batting average down, and also suffering the effects of opportunity cost, where you're losing precious runs, RBI and HR that might have been racked up by a better option.
I think where you and I disagree, basically, is on the evaluation of the two catchers in question, Hill and Ross. Hill's shown enough BA ability and doubles power in the minors that should he win the job, I like him to go something like .250-10-50-50 (basically similar to what the Player Forecast Manager projects).
With Dave Ross, I'm actually quite bullish (again much like PFM). As surely as I'd call a major regression if Ross lucked his way into a .330 BA last year, there's no doubt in my mind that last year's .170 was a huge fluke. I like Ross to hit about .240 this year, which won't kill me. More importantly, even a pessimist wouldn't question his ability to hit for power. Given the starting job in LA, I like him to hit 15+ HR. Call it .242-17-58-52.
I imagine your projection system relies too much on what Hill and Ross did last year, where I see both having only sporadic playing time in '04. Give both regular gigs and I think you'll see by year's end that I got a couple bargains.
Of course as the wise Jeff Erickson told me: "If you don't like your team after the draft, that's when you know you messed up." :)
Ted Simmons would compare favorably to the 13 enshrined catchers across the board with the exception of Fielding Runs (which I'm guessing is already factored in when calculating his WARP).
First off, thanks for reading. Simmons did indeed fall off after garnering a mere 3.74 percent of the vote in his only appearance on the ballot (1994). I'm not sure whose puppy he ran over, or whether it was common knowledge that he was a lousy tipper, or if there were rumors that he was dabbling in the black arts making the rounds... for him to fall off the ballot so quickly was unwarranted, even if there were a number of good candidates up for vote (the top five from that year are all HOFers now).
According to current VC rules, Simmons won't be eligible for consideration until 2009, 21 years after he's been retired. He's on what I'll call The List of the Damned, players who are:
a) not active b) not recently retired, awaiting their first shot at a Cooperstown ballot c) not on the VC ballot d) not on the ineligible list d) above the JAWS positional averages
Bobby Grich: 117.1/46.8/82.0 Bill Dahlen: 121.8/40.7/81.3 Lou Whitaker: 118.0/39.6/78.8 Dwight Evans: 113.0/41.8/77.4 Darrell Evans: 113.7/39.0/76.4 Buddy Bell: 106.7/43.6/75.2 Brett Butler: 103.5/44.7/74.1 Willie Randolph: 110.7/36.9/73.8 Ted Simmons 101.0/40.8/70.9 Rick Reuschel: 101.8/39.6/70.7
Note that these numbers may differ slightly from what's on the web, as the new DT cards went up a couple of weeks ago and I haven't updated my spreadsheet yet.
Anyway, I hope that a new VC system is in place by the time Simmons is eligible. I think he's a very legitimate candidate who deserves a shot.
Bottom of the Ninth